Merlin Housing Society


Merlin Housing Society is a medium-sized social landlord with nearly 9,000 homes based primarily in South Gloucestershire, with others located in Bath, North East Somerset and Bristol.

Regulated by the Homes and Communities Agency, the not-for-profit organisation has a strong focus on creating communities and delivering services that improve the wellbeing of residents. These services include affordable homes, independent living schemes, new property development and ensuring that its housing stock is of a high standard.

LIMA + Merlin Housing Society =
Reduced costs, enhanced performance and increased reliability

We had a good look at various storage technologies and LIMA submitted a substantial infrastructure blueprint based around NetApp. It had several compelling features and delivered high performance at a price that couldn’t be matched. What’s more, one of the technologies that LIMA proposed was a new system that had only just been released. This was a panacea compared to our experience with the previous SAN and it provided a lot of reassurance.
— Chris Stanton, IT Manager, Merlin Housing Society

Results at a glance

Implementation of high performing and easy to manage NetApp solutions

100% uptime

Flexible and reliable platform with a long life

Robust disaster recovery

Cost and time savings

Delivering our Four-Cornered Methodology


Discovering aspirations and challenges

When housing stock was transferred from the South Gloucestershire Council in 2007, Merlin had a contract to use the council’s IT systems for 18 months in order to build and develop its own infrastructure. The Merlin IT team wanted an infrastructure that was reliable, robust and able to fit within tight budget parameters.

With Merlin’s infrastructure growing, the previous SAN lacked scalability and the organisation was experiencing performance bottlenecks on an unstable system. As a result, Merlin required an alternative storage platform that could meet its scalability requirements, provide high performance and reliability and deliver a more streamlined backup and disaster recovery process.

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Identifying the right technology

Working in partnership with LIMA, it was identified that the NetApp FAS8020, with its ability to deliver high performance and use optimised flash to accelerate more workloads, was an ideal fit for the organisation.

Built-in features include the NetApp Data ONTAP storage operating system and a raft of other features that enabled advanced analytics for both physical and virtual environments, instant virtual copies of databases and virtual machines, as well as disk-to-disk backup software for complete backups to secondary storage in minutes.

Merlin also uses NetApp SnapMirror replication technology for simple, efficient and flexible disaster recovery. For this deployment, SnapMirror was linked with a VMware site recovery manager for superior disaster recovery and business continuity. At the disaster recovery location, a NetApp FAS2240 is installed alongside another VMware cluster.

Tech spec: NetApp FAS8020 - NetApp FAS2240

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Realising the benefits to the organisation

By taking advantage of the native NetApp deduplication, Merlin gained approximately 25% savings on storage space from the moment the system was installed, automatically extending the life of the platform by at least five years with five years of support included.

FAS8020 provided a single storage and data management platform, making it easy to simplify transitions and consolidate management of users’ existing storage. NetApp OnCommand Workflow Automation has also delivered storage automation by defining and designing storage workflows, simplifying operations, increasing efficiency and providing functionality without disrupting users. This automation of key day-to-day tasks saves time for the IT department and allows them to focus on business critical tasks.  

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Ensuring the organisation is equipped for the future

NetApp’s solutions sit at the core of Merlin’s infrastructure to provide zero-time resiliency, reliability and redundancy, along with high performance to easily support the organisation as it continues to grow.

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